By Brian Doogan
Paul Lambert has hailed the signing of 'The Rock' Carlos Sanchez as "a great coup for Villa" after the Colombia World Cup star completed his move from Spanish side Elche.
The 28-year-old defensive midfield player put pen to paper on a four-year deal to June 2018 and, subject to international clearance, will become the second Colombian to arrive at the Club after firm fans' favourite Juan Pablo Angel.
Sanchez followed the fortunes of Villa as his compatriot notched 62 goals during his six-year stay, but it was another Barclays Premier League stalwart, Claude Makelele, on whom he based his game, excelling at the age of 17 alongside current Paris Saint-Germain and Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani for the Uruguayan club, Danubio.
Sanchez established himself subsequently at French Ligue 1 club Valenciennes and last season in La Liga, while securing 48 caps for his national team.
"Carlos is a very experienced professional who played a prominent role in a Colombian team which captured everyone's imagination at this summer's World Cup in Brazil. He's a great coup for Villa," said manager Lambert.
"He does the simple things really well and he's excellent at spotting the danger, dealing with it and keeping it simple.
"His physical strength, too, is something we will benefit from in the middle of the pitch and his role will be a really important one for the team.
"We've beaten other teams to bring him here to Villa and I'm delighted as we needed someone of his ilk to come in. He'll be an excellent player for the Club."
For Sanchez, the opportunity to move to a club with whom he already had a strong affinity proved irresistible and he is determined to build on his recent World Cup performances to become a lynchpin for Villa in the Premier League.
"I'm delighted to be here, it's something I have always dreamed of and it is very important for me to be here at Aston Villa, not only for me but for my family as well," Sanchez said.
"It was always my aim to play in this country and in this league and I know Villa well as Juan Pablo also played here.
"I began to watch Villa games when he came in 2001. He was a goalscorer who was very important to this club and I followed his time here because he was always scoring goals.
"Since I was a boy I have always followed English football, particularly teams where Colombians have played. When I had the chance to come to this club I had no doubts because I know this is a big club in the Premier League.
"The most important thing for me was that the manager really wanted me to come here. That was most important in my mind, but I'm very excited also about walking onto the Villa Park pitch and playing in front of our fans.
"I am looking forward to this and I am looking forward to getting to know my teammates. I have a feeling this is a real family club and I am looking forward to experiencing the atmosphere in the dressing room.
"For me, it was an immense experience to play in the World Cup for Colombia and this has given me confidence. I think it is because of the World Cup that I am here.
"English football is the most complete and rounded game and I always looked up to Chelsea's Claude Makelele.
"He was different from the others, he played a very important role in the team and everybody spoke about him. I was in the same position when I was young and I watched him all the time.
"I then played against him during my time in France which was an unforgettable experience, especially as I was able to swap my shirt with him after the game - and I still have the shirt!
"My new teammates are my friends now and I will get to know them really well. Also the supporters, I want to get to know well, too, and build a strong bond with them. I will give everything, this is my commitment to the team."
Sanchez is a 28-year-old defensive midfielder who has played in the top leagues in Spain and France has earned 48 caps for Colombia. His nickname is 'The Rock', due to his defensive stability and his imposing stature.
Sanchez left Colombia at the age of 17 to join Uruguayan club Danubio, where he was a team-mate of Uruguay international Cavani.
He moved to River Plate Montevideo in search of first-team football and made his first professional appearance in 2005. River Plate became contenders for trophies during his spell at the Uruguayan club and he began to attraction attention from European clubs, moving to French Ligue 1 club Valenciennes in 2007.
He made 178 appearances during six years in northern France before making the move to Elche in August 2013 following their promotion to La Liga, playing a key role in Elche retaining their status in the Primera Division for the first time in more than 40 years.
Sanchez made his international debut in May 2007 in a match against Panama. He has gone on to become a key member of the Colombian team and played a vital role in their progression to the World Cup quarter-finals in Brazil, appearing in four of the five games before their elimination by the hosts and only sitting out the final group match with Colombia already through to the knockout stages.